This is my Stella last November about a month before she started laying. The funny thing is, I always thought my Cochin, Cosette, would be the mama hen, because cochins are supposed to be so broody and such good mothers. So I got a dozen ceramic eggs and left one new fake egg in the nest box every time I collected eggs. After a while, I had a nice clutch of ceramic eggs. My way of feeding oyster shell is pretty lazy. I just pour the shells on the ground in one part of the chicken run and let them eat as much as they want. Fresh shells are supposed to help them feel broody. The hens started taking turns hanging out on the ceramic eggs for an hour or more at a time. One week ago Stella got extremely serious and sat on the eggs all day long Saturday. Last Sunday morning she got up, ran around, drank, pooped, ate, dust bathed and then went right back to the (fake) eggs. That's when I got really excited. I waited four more days to see if she was really serious and then I said OK, let's have a go. Bought some eggs on eBay. I buy everything on eBay so it seemed very natural. Actually, I tried to scrounge some fertile eggs from a colleague whose wife is a chickenista, but he said they got rid of their rooster to a breeding farm because he was getting too aggressive. But at least he gave me a lead on what to do with cockerels if my eggs actually hatch (notice I am not counting them yet!). So the eggs arrived on Thursday night and I opened them and let them recover from the shipping for 24 hours and then some. I know they say make the switch at night, but knowing Stella's routine of taking a broody break in the morning, I just waited until she was off the nest and put the fertile eggs in and took the fake ones (and one real one from another hen) away. Now she is sitting on real eggs! I guess May 14 is my hatch date. I timed it for the weekend so I have the best chance of seeing a hatch. Cosette thinks her sister has lost her mind. I know this could end badly, but have high hopes..... and a long list of baby names.
May first. This is day nine of setting. I am so proud of Stella. She takes a break every morning but always returns to the eggs. I worry about them getting cold, but I have confidence. Yesterday my friend Lauren brought her three year old to see the chickens. I tried to explain the hatching experiment to her but Sadie kept interrupting as little girls will do. So Lauren was really puzzled why I was expecting chicks after putting fake eggs in the box. I told Stella that she is halfway done, because she's been sitting for over two weeks and has two weeks to go.